Last year on The Witching Hour we looked at Frozen, a movie about three people trapped on a ski lift and struggling to stay alive during a brutally cold winter storm. While I found the plot to be a bit hard to swallow, there actually was historical precedent for someone becoming stranded in that exact manner. There is also something pure about the struggle to stay alive in a hostile environment. The first Open Water film featured a similar premise and was also based on a true story – a couple on a scuba diving excursion surfaces and finds that they have been abandoned in the middle of the ocean. They struggle against hypothermia and sharks who sense their next meal will be coming along fairly soon. But no – that is not the movie we are going to look at tonight. Something far more absurd lies in wait – the unofficial sequel, Open Water 2: Adrift.
Whereas Frozen and Open Water told the stories of hapless people who were inadvertently left in awful predicaments, the characters in Open Water 2: Adrift are for the most part in their situation due to their own idiocy. The movie is about a group of five people who have been friends since high school. They meet up to celebrate the thirtieth birthday of one of their number, a fellow named Zach. The festivities take place on the Gulf of Mexico thanks to Dan who claims to be very successful and has bought a new yacht. Zach and Dan are joined by their girlfriends, Lauren and newcomer Michelle. The group is rounded out by Amy (played by Susan May Pratt) and her husband, James along with their baby daughter, Sara.
Let’s take a moment to talk about Amy who I will admit is portrayed well by Ms. Pratt. She is the only one who is hesitant to even board the yacht because of a horrific experience she had in the water as a child. Amy is the only one in the group to don a life preserver and she chooses to stay behind on the yacht while everybody else opts to jump into the ocean for a swim. That is until the only other person on the boat, Dan, decides she needs to loosen up and picks her up before jumping into the water.
The only problem is – nobody bothered to extend the ladder on the yacht and the entire group is now trapped in the ocean with no way to climb back on to the ship.
Realizing their predicament, the group attempts to board the yacht again. They leap for a dangling flag and even tie their swimsuits together to fashion a rope but nothing seems to work. At this point you may be watching the film and think of a way out of their situation and trust me, I thought of the same solution but they don’t even attempt this until most of the group has drowned. On that note, let me point out that the only real danger in Open Water 2: Adrift is from being in the ocean. There are no sharks or any other aquatic creature that pose a threat to these people. In fact, two grievous injuries in the movie are due to their own bad decisions. It is very difficult to feel any sympathy for people who so foolishly put themselves into this situation.
I do make an exception for Amy, however. It is heartbreaking to hear her babies cries on board the yacht while she is stuck in the ocean unable to help her.
As much as I hate the plot of this movie, I must admit there is some beautiful cinematography here and there such as this scene when Dan’s girlfriend drowns:
It’s a pity that the writing is so ham-fisted. If you are afraid that you might miss what could be a poignant moment in the story, don’t worry. Director Hans Horn will let you know when these scenes occur with extreme camera angles and sad music that is so overdone that it actually takes you out of the story and kills any feelings you may have had.
And then there is the ending. I have watched this movie several times and I am still not sure what the ending attempts to convey. We are presented with two contradictory scenarios presented within seconds of each other. I suspect that they may have produced two different endings and thanks to shoddy editing both of them were incorporated into the movie.
The posters for this movie claim it is based on true events. I researched this and could find no real world case that is remotely close to what we see here. I am convinced they are talking about the story of Thomas and Eileen Lonergan – the couple who was mistakenly abandoned in the ocean and the inspiration for the first Open Water film.
You see, Open Water 2: Adrift is not actually a sequel to the original. Literally nobody involved with Open Water worked on this film. Different producer, director, cast and even the distribution company is different. It seems that the people who worked on Open Water 2 just declared that this movie was a sequel without any real attachment to the original.
To be fair, this is not the worst movie I have ever seen and I have no regrets seeing it. I simply don’t see much reason to recommend it unless you can find it for a really cheap price. On that note, I bought this movie as part of a “3 films for $5” deal on Vudu. When even digital movies are so cheap you can’t have high expectations.